State funding of higher education institutions has seen a substantial decline over the last decade making college education out of bounds for many, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
The decline in state funding for public two- and four-year colleges started after the Great Recession of 2008. As compared to state funding before the recession, 41 states spent $1,220, or 13 percent, less per student between 2008 to 2018.
In states like Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, the per-student funding fell by more than 30 percent. As a result, many colleges cut faculty positions, eliminated course offerings, closed campuses, and reduced student services, among other cuts.
Many colleges and universities responded by increasing tuition, reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses.
The tuition increase differs for each state, but on average, the tuition at four-year public colleges rose by $2,708. The declining state funding and rising college cost are acting as a barrier for low-income students and students of color from attending college worsening racial and class inequality.
“Rising tuition threatens affordability and access, leaving many students and their families –– including those whose annual wages have stagnated or fallen over recent decades — either saddled with onerous debt or unable to afford college altogether,” the CBPP report reads.
The report recommended an increase in funding for public two- and four-year colleges and develop craft funding formulas that focus additional state funds on building the capacity of colleges with the fewest resources. It further urged lawmakers to push for investment in need-based aid programs instead of a merit-based program.